It struck me recently that maybe I’ve been misreading some stuff in Quaker sources where testimony is mentioned. I noticed it when I had a chance to read some of "Fit for freedom, not for friendship
", in an extract quoted in that book from a minute made by a group of Friends early in the twentieth century. Perhaps I’m not the only one to have read Quaker stuff for several years without having understood this. Could a misreading have persisted so long as to be widely adopted? Look at this sentence fragment: “ ... the consequences of our testimony on ...” I’m pretty clear that in the context as it was written, the thing that had consequences was “our testimony”. The thing after “on” was the issue or facet of life that “our testimony” affected.
Maybe that is obvious to you, but it’s made a difference in how I understand the writing of previous generations of Quakers. They were able to say “our testimony”, without qualification, as something that had consequences for actions in various parts of their lives. That use of words to me speaks about a corporate testimony, a common understanding of the power and grace of God through Christ Jesus. That understanding, of the power and grace of God to change and redeem us in Christ and use our transformed lives as testimony, is the common source from which the consequences needed to be allowed to work through into each issue and aspect of our lives.
Can we say “our testimony” unqualified? Do you find that faith is joining you together with the others who are living in God’s power and grace? What effect is “our testimony”, the collective witness we can make about God’s grace, stirring up in your life right now?